From The Bench

A Closer Look at Halloween in America

On October 31 parents and kids dress up as witches, ghouls, and other supernatural creatures. Halloween in America is the grandest celebration globally. Traditional Halloween celebrations in the United States include dressing up in costume and reciting scary stories about witches and ghosts.

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Carving jack-o’-lanterns into pumpkins is a Halloween tradition. Trick-or-treaters make their way from home to house, screaming out “Trick or treat!” as they go in hopes of filling their bags with sweets. Halloween may be a night of merriment for those who partake, but its past in the United States has a strange history indeed.

Halloween in America was primarily a time for trick-or-treating throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Bands of troublemakers crisscrossed the city and the countryside, honking their horns and damaging private dwellings and commercial establishments. Others created severe disruptions in addition to their amusing antics. As a result, special police officers were often called to the scene during Halloween in America to minimize damage to a minimum.

Masquerade parties are a popular way for individuals to celebrate Halloween in America. Sometimes, the guests at the celebration vote for their favorite costume. But, no, I’ve never had the pleasure of attending one. So, how are you going to dress for Halloween this year?

Halloween in America: Things People Do!

Halloween is a time for carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and dressing up in spooky costumes. While it is true that Halloween is a modern creation, its roots may be traced back to the ancient Samhain (pronounced “SAH-win”), a time when people would light bonfires and don costumes to fend off spirits in celebration of the harvest season at the end of the summer.

Pope Gregory III declared November 1 a day of remembrance for saints in the ninth century. All Saints Day adopted several of Samhain’s customs soon after. All Hallows Eve and Halloween were named for the night preceding All Saints Day. The history of some of the most well-known Halloween customs may be found in the following sections.

Bobbing For Apples

Although bobbing for apples has been a Halloween tradition for many years, its roots lie in the romanticism of love and sex. Originally part of a Roman festival celebrating the goddess of agriculture and prosperity, Pomona, the game’s roots may be traced back to a wooing ritual. Even though there were several different variations, the premise was that young men and women might use the game to foretell their future romantic relationships. Romans conquered the British Isles in 43 AD, bringing the Pomona celebration, a predecessor to Halloween, and the Samhain holiday.

Pranking

There are many origin tales for the pre-Halloween ritual known as “Devil’s Night,” a time when people play tricks on each other, but no one knows where it originated.

According to some, pranks are said to have been an element of May Day celebrations. However, All Hallows’ Eve and Samhain’s celebrations involved plenty of harmless mischiefs. Immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought the tradition of Mischief Night, which is part of Halloween, with them.

Candles And Bonfires Might Be Set Up for The Occasion

For many of Halloween’s early history, huge bonfires were utilized as beacons for spirits on their trip to the afterlife. However, candles have mostly supplanted the enormous, customary blazes of the past in modern times.

Candy Apples

The fruit has been preserved for ages by being coated with syrup. Since her name stems from “pomum” (the Latin word for apple), Pomona was frequently shown and connected with apples during the Roman festival of Pomona. Candy apples are thought to have originated by accident in Newark, New Jersey, around 1908.

According to legend, Kolb dipped apples in the crimson glaze to promote his new red cinnamon candy and placed them on sticks in his store display. Ultimately, he sold the apples to clients who felt they looked good enough to eat. In the early 1900s, they were trendy Halloween treats, and they remained so until the 1970s.

Bats

In the early stages of the celebration of Halloween in America, bats may have been there not just as a symbol but as an actual presence. A great bonfire was built as part of Samhain, which drew bats because of the insects. Soon spotting bats became connected with the festival. Various superstitions centered on the idea that bats were omens of death were developed in medieval folklore to go along with the already existing fear of bats.

The Candy Binge

The tradition of going door-to-door on Halloween in search of alms has been around for quite some time. However, before the middle of the twentieth century, “treats” given to children were not always sweets. Instead, it was just as probable that people would be given things like almonds, fruit, and even toys.

Candy was a modern Halloween innovation, and the commercialization of the candy cane also help popularized the idea of trick-or-treating in America.

Individually wrapped sweets were popular in the 1950s when trick-or-treating became more popular. As a result of convenience, people began to favor confections over other delights, but candy didn’t take over until the 1970s, when parents began to fear anything unwrapped.

Endless Cravings for Halloween Confectionery

Tri-colored candies were supposedly first made in the 1880s by a candy manufacturer at the Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia. However, it wasn’t until the Goelitz Company introduced candy corn to the public in 1898 that it became a popular treat. “Chicken Feed” was the old name, with the slogan “Something worth crowing about.”

As a result of the corn’s link with harvest time, the candy was once solely a seasonal treat for the fall. However, when trick-or-treating got more popular in the United States in the 1950s, candy corn became more Halloween-specific.

Carving Pumpkins for Halloween

Instead of utilizing pumpkins, turnips were used to make Jack-o’-Lanterns. Stingy Jack is said to have frequently caught the Devil and only let him go on the condition that Jack would never return to Hell. This story is said to be based on this mythology.

Because Heaven didn’t take his soul, Jack had to spend eternity as a ghost wandering the Earth. To light his path, the Devil placed a blazing lump of coal inside a carved-out turnip. Then, residents began carving frightful faces into their turnips to ward off evil spirits.

Ghoul Sighting?

During this time of Samhain, people began to prepare for the coming year after the harvest season and the start of winter. Celtic folklore said that spirits roamed the Earth during the celebration of Halloween in America. Christian missionaries created All Souls’ Day on November 2, perpetuating the concept that people meet the dead at this time of year.

Horror Costumes

The Celts wore disguises at Samhain to escape being scared by all the terrible spirits that roamed the Earth and ensure they would be left alone.

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-origins treating’s hotly contested, but three main ideas have emerged. In the first notion, the Celtic people would put food out at night to entice the spirits of the land. Then, people began dressing up like these alien creatures in exchange for food and drink.

The second idea proposes that the sugar boon is a secular variant of “souling,” a Scottish tradition of guising. Prayers for the dead were exchanged for food and money on All Souls’ Day in the Middle Ages, and this practice was common. Non-religious rituals, such as music, jokes, and other “tricks,” replaced the prayers.

There’s a third hypothesis that claims that today’s Halloween customs sprang from “be snickering,” a German American Christmas practice in which youngsters would dress up as characters from a holiday story to test their neighbors’ ability to figure out who they were. Children who could not be identified were given food or sweets as a reward in one practice variation.

All Black Cats

Black cats were considered devilish signs beginning in the Middle Ages, so people began associating them with fear. Many witches were found to have cats, particularly black ones, in their possession years later. A witch’s “familiar”—supernatural beings that aid in the practice of dark magic—has long been associated with black cats and spookiness.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

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